Following up on Ren’s post last night….After Wednesday night’s terrible performance against the Philadelphia 76ers, I predicted there was no way the Rockets were going to beat the World Champ Celtics. Even though Boston had been struggling of late, I thought the Rockets, even though they had bounced back from poor games before, couldn’t defeat the Celtics on the second night of a back-to-back. Especially since the Rockets had lost 5 games in a row on the road, and 5 of their last 7 games.
It looked like it was going to be another loss late in the fourth quarter after several mistakes offensively and defensively gave the Celtics the lead. Ho hum, another collapse for a loss. But they proved me wrong, and I’m ecstatic to say I was wrong.
Some young Houston players stepped up big-time. Von Wafer‘s three-pointer from the corner was absolutely clutch. That’s going to do wonders for his career. The guy has GOT to have stones to be such a young player and have that crazy Mohawk haircut of his. 4-of-6 from behind the arc Wednesday night. Love it.
Aaron Brooks was absolutely fantastic. He snapped out of his shooting funk (capped off by 1-of-11 shooting on Wednesday night), at least temporarily, by scoring 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting. But he also was pivotal by breaking down the defense by getting into the lane, drawing the defense to him, then kicking it out to Wafer for that three. Then he drew a charge on Paul Pierce to make Boston turn the ball over. I’d like to see him finish more games than Rafer Alston.
As Ren wrote last night after the game, I think Yao played one of his best games of the season, hitting clutch shots including a clean-up basket in the final 11 seconds to give the Rockets a 4-point lead. And it was Brooks who penetrated deep into the lane and dished it underneath to Carl Landry, who missed, but Yao grabbed the rebound to put it back in.
Oh yeah, and they did this all with Tracy McGrady not playing. Does that tell you something? Ron Artest played great in his place, scoring 17 points in 30 minutes, and playing great defense the Rockets have sorely missed during his absence. I would love for the Rockets to re-sign Artest this coming off-season after he becomes a free agent, even it requires the Rockets get rid of McGrady’s bloated salary somehow to make the numbers work. I’m sure we’ll get into that discussion in a few months, but I wanted to throw it out there right now.
The Rockets’ confidence has now got to be sky high, and it will be interesting to see it gives them the bounce they need to play in their back-to-back on Friday and Saturday.